CBAA Project Assistance Grant Recipient 2012: Jessica Barness

You Will Have Luck: A Collection of Fortunes, 2010

Fortune cookie papers, digital photography, various internet resources, digital laser paper and printing, chopstick sleeve.

Celebrating the American tradition of fortune cookies, a personal collection of fortunes was curated and explored through physical traits, internet language translation, syntax, and word counts. Designed as an unbound series of booklets, each unfolds to display graphic content on one side and computer generated ASCII art on the reverse.

Collected fortunes were sorted according to ink color (black, red or blue), printing (double-sided, single-sided), paper type (glossy, smooth, rough), text content, and physical condition (stained with soy sauce and/or grease). Fortunes were digitally photographed in these groupings or in the formation of letters and words.

Google Translate was used to translate English into traditional or simplified Chinese, then back into English, showing how much syntax can change and meaning lost (or gained) through the process. Word frequency was calculated within the collection itself as well as within the English language.

ASCII artwork (pictures translated to alphanumeric characters) bring the fortunes back into everyday context, and include chopsticks, take-out boxes, and the cookies themselves. Each unfolded booklet closely resembles the size and shape of a placemat, further connecting the reading of a fortune to an entertaining dining experience.

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